By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said that Tehran will inaugurate “important nuclear projects” within days.
Speaking at a rally to mark the 33rd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 11, Ahmadinejad said that “within the coming days we will witness [the] opening and operation of new nuclear projects in Iran.”
Ahmadinejad gave no details about what projects would be made public. But any announcement is sure to raise tensions between Iran and countries which accuse it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons technology.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported in November that Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent at a mountain bunker near Qoms. That level is higher than necessary for civilian nuclear fuel but still well below the 90 percent enrichment needed for making an atomic bomb.
Iranian officials have said in recent months that that they plan insert their first domestically made 20-percent enriched fuel plate into a Tehran research reactor by March.
Western countries fear the research reactor could also be used to eventually create bomb-grade materials.
As Ahmadinejad spoke on February 11, he sharply criticized both the United States and Israel.
A life-sized model of a U.S. drone, captured by Iran in December near the border with Afghanistan, was among the centerpieces of the rally in Tehran’s Azadi Square.
Ahmadinejad claimed the United States and the West had created “a story called the Holocaust” to create the Israeli state as part of a plan “to dominate the world.”
Hamas Prime Minister of Gaza Ismail Haniyeh told the crowd just before Ahmadinejad spoke that Hamas “will never recognize Israel.”
A crowd of an estimated 30,000 people cheered the speakers. Many held aloft placards declaring “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
On February 11, Iran’s state TV also showed tens of thousands of pro-government demonstrators rallying across the country to mark the 1979 events, which toppled Iran’s pro-west monarchy and brought Islamic clerics to power.
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